Interview: Women of BOOM! – Rebecca Taylor

Rebecca Taylor 2We’re up to a half dozen of our “Women of BOOM!” features, spotlighting the many kick-ass women that work at BOOM!, Archaia and KaBOOM! We’re focusing on everyone, editors, designers, writers, artists, you name it! We’re making sure to include the hard-working folks whose contributions are often overlooked in the process.

BOOM! (and KaBOOM! and Archaia) has given us unprecedented access and the chance to ask questions to their staff, and creative teams, to find out why the publisher is so successful in hiring women and their experiences in the comic industry as women.

Up this week is Rebecca Taylor, an editor for the company.

Graphic Policy: How did you get involved in the comic book industry?

Rebecca Taylor: I studied writing in school, and I always knew that I wanted to work in some form of collaborative storytelling. I interned at a few places in Hollywood before finding Archaia. Once I was there, I performed a sit-in and simply refused to leave. They kindly let me stay, and I’ve been here ever since.

GP: Did you read comics growing up? Do you read them now?

RT: I’m embarrassed to say that I was unaware that they still printed comics until I was about fifteen and my mother—yes, my mother—brought home Hush from the bookstore because she knew I liked Batman. Ever since then, I’ve been reading comics. I definitely still read them now. My iPad storage is 5% photos, 10% music, and 50% comics.

GP: How did you come to work with BOOM!/Archaia?

RT: As I mentioned, I started as an intern at Archaia. They offered me amazing opportunities to grow in editorial, to work on incredible projects and with remarkable creators. Moving with Archaia over to BOOM! just feels like another one of those great opportunities to grow.

GP: How would you describe your job for people?

RT: I always tell people that an editor is an ambassador between a creator’s imagination and a readers’. My job is to figure out exactly what story the creator is trying to tell and make sure that that’s the story the reader ends up reading. I’m the creator’s first reader and their biggest fan. I also moonlight as a part-time drill-sergeant, psychologist, and cheerleader.

GP: For people who want to pursue a career in what you do, what advice would you give them?

RT: Spend time working in collaborative environments. Whether it’s retail, team sports, workshop classes, teaching, or writers’ groups, find a place where you can be a part of a team and use your communication skills. Most of the major publishers have internship programs, so take advantage of those if you’re still in school. If you want to go into editing, the other thing to do is to just consume content. Read, read, read. Read comics. Read novels. Read plays. Watch television. Watch movies. Then read some more.

GP: Did you have a mentor to help you break into the industry? Do you mentor anyone yourself?

RT: Since Archaia has always been such a small team, I think we’ve all taught each other things. I feel like I’ve grown up there in many ways, learning from everyone. I’ve loved being able to run the Archaia Internship Program. I’ve met some incredible young people who are going to make big impacts in this industry. I try and engage their curiosity and encourage their enthusiasm as much as I can, because we need as many smart, passionate, intelligent people coming into the industry and bringing fresh ideas as we can get.

GP: Do you think women have a more difficult time breaking in and making it in the comic industry, if so why? And if yes, how do you think that can be overcome?

RT: For me, I actually think it was an asset. A lot of companies are looking for diversity now on their staffs. I think the bigger challenge is once you get in the door. I’ve always been lucky enough to work in extremely open, accepting, and encouraging companies, but even so, there are still very few women in top positions at comic book publishers. Editors-in-Chief, Publishers, and CEOs are still men pretty much across the board. I hope that’s the next step forward that we can collectively change, and I feel that most people in this industry, both men and women, share that hope.

GP: We notice that when it comes to women in the comic industry, BOOM!/Archaia has a lot of diversity present. Why do you think have they succeeded when so many other publishers struggle with this?

RT: I think for both companies, there’s such an incredible diversity to the kinds of stories that we tell, that it makes sense for everyone from our readers to our staffs would reflect that diversity. We don’t care if your story is for adults or kids, horror or humor, painted or drawn in ballpoint pen—if it’s good, it’s something we want to do. Same goes for the people—doesn’t matter what you look like or where you come from, if you’re good at what you do, you belong here.

GP: We’ve heard horror stories concerning women in the industry, have you ever seen or been discriminated/harassed and if so, how did you handle it?

RT: I think most of the uncomfortable instances I’ve had while in comics are mostly born from guys not thinking things through rather than out of maliciousness. When I point it out to them later, they apologize profusely most of the time. It doesn’t change the fact that it sucks when it happens, but at least I’ve always felt encouraged to speak up when it does. Contrary to some beliefs, 95% of the guys in comics don’t want to make women feel discriminated. They just do it without knowing it sometimes, so pointing it out when it happens is good for everyone.

GP: What advice do you have for women looking to break into the comic book industry?

RT: Don’t be afraid to be you. You have to be willing to stand up for yourself. Just trust your instincts. Don’t be afraid to like the things you like and say so. Have no fear!